Wednesday, 16 May 2012

“So you're not Gothic anymore?”

It would be pointless for me to begin another debate on how important fashion is or is not within alternative subcultures; this is a topic on which everyone has a different opinion and mine is no more or less accurate than anyone else's is likely to be. I'm sure that most would agree, however, that a person's manner of dress plays a large part in how others perceive them. For those of us who prefer a darker or more unusual aesthetic, this can pose a unique set of problems.

One such dilemma is one I've been encountering a lot recently. If someone who is flamboyantly Goth twenty-eight days out of the month should post a photo on the internet or step out of the house whilst wearing blue jeans or no make-up, or even *gasp* a natural hair colour, as well as the oft-discussed "Are you growing out of your phase then?" and "How nice to see you in a bit of colour!" comments from well-meaning but generally clueless non-Goths, the reaction from other self-confessed members of the dark side can be amusing or frustrating.

If, for example, you live in an area with no alternative club scene to speak of and very few other local Goths, it is almost a given that the one time you have to dash out of the house in a hurry wearing blue jeans, no make-up, and that white jumper with the subtle skull pattern that you usually wear with your effortlessly spooky tiered skirt but that looks almost *shudder* mainstream with the abovementioned ensemble - that's when you'll bump straight into the coterie of aristocratic Gothy types in full regalia who'll float past you with nary a glance.

Not to mention that your neighbour will casually remark as you pass by, "Oh, you've changed your image then."

I think the above phrase particularly annoys me because it hinges on the assumption that a person's entire wardrobe (and thereby possibly also tastes, aesthetics and subcultural preferences) can be accurately summarised and judged by one outfit. (Sure, you may have That One Outfit that works perfectly for every occasion, but what's the likelihood that you wear it all the time?) Leaving aside the fact that this would allow no room for casual days, off days or experimentation, you can't garner from a single meeting (or internet photo) what the person in question might be doing that day. Maybe they were in a rush, as above. Maybe they have to have dinner with Great Aunt Fanny later and didn't want to cause a scene. Maybe they're not well, or about to do some gardening, or babysit, or off to a job interview. And so on, and so on.

They're not giving up their entire subcultural allegiance (and by association in some cases a large part of their worldview, lifestyle and even personality). They're just wearing different clothes. I know that the saying goes, "Clothes maketh the man," but there's a lot more to belonging to a subculture - any subculture - than having an unnatural hair colour, wearing heavy make-up and being clad in 100% black clothing all the time. Yes, a person's style may also change as they get older, but that's just development, not a sign of an entire personality makeover.

I think the reason I have been on the receiving end of such remarks a lot recently is that my most recent hair colour - plum purple, as you may recall from my new haircut photos - has faded to a light brown that is very nearly my natural colour. I won't be dying it again for a while, as my hair is in very poor condition from having six years' worth of black dye bleached out of it and really could do with a little TLC before I subject it to any more rounds of peroxide and ammonia. Everyone around me seems very shocked by this natural colour and I keep getting people asking me, "Didn't you used to be a Goth?"

Additionally, yes, I have mentioned on this blog lately that I've been experimenting with styles outside of the Goth spectrum. My interests don't just revolve around a single style so occasionally I do like to dip my toe into other waters. I particularly like trying to incorporate elements of other influences and inspirations into Goth style (often with mixed results) - oh, and I gave Dan QUITE the sartorial surprise on our anniversary (there are photos. I will share them on the end of this post) - although I am beginning to go off on a tangent here... What I am trying to say is that doing something different from time to time doesn't make someone an entirely different person.

Bearing in mind that since I like EBM, Emilie Autumn and other such things I am (depending on how literal your viewpoint) not precisely 'Goth' to start with, the answer to "So you're not Goth anymore?" is, "I am myself." I just wear different clothes on different days, like most people. My interests have changed very little since I started writing this blog, nor do I expect them to, although they may evolve as I grow up (which I am assured is pretty normal...). Wearing what you like (or what is appropriate) at any given time and being true to yourself is more important than sticking rigidly to a definition or label. I really love many aspects of the Goth subculture, but I'm less concerned with being 'Goth' than with being me.

(And now, in chronological order, some recent outfits:)

The next two were for my anniversary dates with Dan... it was a bit of fun considering he usually has to contend with corsets and petticoats and a shaven head. I thought I would surprise him.

These are my new shoes, I love them very much. I do wear all of the pieces in this outfit... just not usually together like this! ;-D

Me yesterday


CatacombxKitten said...

Your hair really looks fantastic!

Daniel_8964 said...

I have the same sort of idea and I like the fact you experiment with your own style as it's better to have a change in a while doing what you are comfortable wearing and have a diverse taste in your wardrobe than conforming to an specific image all the time. I like to be myself as well and I do wear blue jeans like a fortnight.

Ragrunzel said...

Ah, I HATE it when people come up with the "you're out of your phase?" stuff! When I was 14, I started using (dark) make up, dyed my hair black and wore mostly black clothes. As soon as I bleached my hair blonde people were assuming I've totally changed... today - being 22 now - I still wear black more than anything else and I wear even heavier make up than years ago. That so called "phase" was important for me, and I wouldn't look or even be the way I am now if I didn't go through it. I do look more "fashionable" now, but not because I left this style behind me or grew out of it, but rather because my style grew WITH me.

I totally agree that you shouldn't desperately try to fit in some subculture. Personally, I mainly take inspiration from the japanese style Gyaru and also from Goth ...and even from fictional characters. Basically I just mix everything I've seen and liked with my own ideas :3 all that = Klara.

Ah, and I understand that you want to give your hair some rest, same here. But can't you use Directions, Manic Panic, Crazy Colors etc? Since they're confitioning hair dye, they really don't do your hair any harm :)
I stopped bleaching my hair a few months ago because it's in a horrible condition (bleaching + straightening everyday), I only dye them black with the mentioned dyes right now. And it feels so..comfortable because black was the first color I've ever dyed my hair ;_;

Xanthy said...

I got a similar reaction a couple of months back, because I was wearing a bright green/black striped T-shirt and black trousers. O_o

Sarah Silence said...

There are so many style subsets that fall under 'Goth," it would be hard to conform to any of them. I agree, you look fab, and I love your shaved head!

Nightwind said...

Amy, I agree with you. When I entered into the Goth subculture I incorporated the Goth aesthetic into the look that I already had, which includes the occasional wearing of blue jeans.

Also, my association with the cemeteries around me puts me in contact with some very religious and conservative people from time to time. When they're around, I have to tone it down a bit. I don't like doing that but I call it self-preservation. Still, I do try to maintain a certain amount of Goth aesthetic most of the time.

Your new photos are lovely.

Katelynn said...

Its nice to see I'm not the only one who takes days of dressing normal. Sometimes I really just don't have time or the effort to put into looking spooky or glammed up and the result is usually old ripped, blue jeans and a Captain America tee.

PS. Your hair looks great even with the natural colour.

VictorianKitty (Sophistique Noir) said...

OMG!! RED DRESS, shrug and sexy shoes = SWOON!

I think part of the issue here is that young people often have such restricted views of "what counts as Goth." I've been Goth for 22 years, so if I wear a Stop Staring! dress one night, that doesn't mean I'm not Goth for that night. It means I love variety, and like to create my own NEW WAYS OF BEING GOTH. Goths are allowed to have variety, too! ;-D

As you stated so perfectly, "I am myself." Some Goths will still call you Goth because they respect your independence and your dark roots; other Goths will shun you because they perhaps don't feel "secure enough in their own Gothiness" to be comfortable with someone who doesn't feel confined to such strict rules. Ironically, I've found those are usually the ones who "grow out of it" eventually because they don't leave themselves any room to grow INTO it.

App'y said...

Never forget that’s it’s what is on the inside that matters, If it’s raining put on a sou’wester it does not make a difference to who you are. If people can’t see that then that’s their problem.

Anonymous said...

I've never had the experience of having my "gothiness" (or lack of) questioned. Maybe it's because no matter what I wear (style-wise), it's typically all black or some other dark color. Even when I had a job where I had a corporate dress code, clients, as well as coworkers, would often ask me if I am/was ever goth. My hair wasn't even dyed black. I guess it's because I live in a location that is home to many countercultures that it isn't so out of the ordinary. Most of my clothes have been purchased at "mainstream" stores, so I have alot of those outfits that are appropriate for all occasions, although makeup & accessories can make all the

I was once a 24/7 goth, in terms of appearance, but then I decided I don't really care if the grocery clerk, the bank teller, or anyone else outside of my social circle knows if I'm goth, and I'm sure they don't care, either. I'm now at a point in my life where I really dress for comfort. If I have occasion to dress up, great; if not, that's fine, too. I must say, though, I only have one pair of blue jeans, and I only bought those because of "Jeans Day" at work, but they're just sitting in a storage bin, as I don't personally like them for *me*.

I've had periods in my life where I *attempted* to replace my alternative style with a more "fashionable" one, and I've bought outfits, only to break them down and incorporate them into my goth wardrobe, as even my so-called "normal" clothes consist of primarily black, lace, flowy items. I guess I'm just drawn to a specific aesthetic.

As for your hair, Amy, have you tried pure Henna? It really does wonders for the condition of hair, as well as can provide color (although clear is also available), and the color eventually just washes out. I've actually used black, red, and burgundy in the past. It smells a bit (like dirt or patchoulli) when applying, but the smell doesn't stay in the hair. Also, snipping a bit off the ends every few weeks can really make a difference in your hairs appearance (literally, like a couple of centimeters), and it won't make a difference in the appearance of length.

The Cemetery Dreamer said...

I completely know the feeling about only bumping into Goths when you aren't dressed up...

When I was last at Highgate cemetery doing my research, I saw several fabulous Goths. They completely ignored me. I was wearing head to toe waterproofs and covered in mud...clearing ivy and pruning trees in the rain is not the time for velvet!

I think you look great in all your outfits so just wear what makes you happy and have fun =]

Ria said...

That makes me feel less bad about looking so boring at work.

Have you tried the hobo hairpackage? Make your hair wet, mix 2 small spoons of warm olive oil with one small spoon of honey. Put everything vulnerable to fat spots far away and apply the mixture to you hair, leave in as long as possible. (And look like a hobo while doing so) Simply wash out with shampoo afterwards. It always helps for me.

Claennis said...

Oh, you might like to try some Cassia on your hair. It'll make the colour more vibrant and help with some damage. ^^
As for the rest of the post, I usually dress casually with a little accessory that screams "Hey, I'm not changing here!" Like I might wear a pair of bracers, a circlet, black jeans, and a random shirt and no one will be all "Are you changing again?" about it. Heck, no one's like that when I dress in jeans and a T-shirt.
I actually feel rather self conscious when I dress flamboyantly. I have to slowly add items to my dress in order to wear them all at once without feeling like everyone's staring at me- and not in a good way. Because of this (and the fact I am in school), I usually dress casually. Whenever I get "goth'd up" I feel really weird because most of my outfits are "normal."

Goth Girl Gabs said...

Those black shoes (with the red dress) are bad ass! Clothes are just an extension of personality and a tool for self expression. You're absolutely right! I'd rather be defined as ME, not by what I'm wearing that day.

KatSaw said...

AMY! You look fantastic!! Well, not that you're not always pretty, but LE GASP. No wonder Dan freaked on your date; that burnt orange dress looks incredible -- your figure looks fabulous and your legs end roughly at your hairline. I see Batfit is doing some amazing things.

(also, great post as always, blah blah :D )

Anonymous said...

Is funny, here in Spain we have a sying which is just the opposite (it would tranlate for something like "robes won't make you an monk")....saying that can also be applied to those who think that posting photos with black lipstick and a dramatical pose will make them the gothiest

alberto said...

gothic .... is not in appearance, is inside, in the mind ... Amy, as always you look so add, you look a bit like Emily Strange :) ;) ... have a great weekend!!!...

stormatia said...

I love the variations in your day to day outfits. Sometimes you're completely decked out, then you're almost 'normal'.
We all know that all the photos of the beautiful goths are carefully put together. We also know that it's impossible to dress like that every single day, so it's relieving to see a goth blogger in more relaxed attire.
For a fellow bat who wears mostly jeans and t-shirts, articles like these keep my goth confidence up

Anonymous said...

if you go to they have articles on how to fix over-murderized hair

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